LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - We can get lots of vitamin D from the sun to help the body absorb calcium and to reduce inflammation among other things.
But today, as Americans are becoming more aware of sun damage and protecting ourselves from the sun, it's estimated that as many as half are now vitamin D deficient.
Dr. Alan Pieres, an endocrinologist and Texas Tech Physician, adds that as much as we need sun screen to protect against skin cancer, that can also block up to 96 percent of vitamin D absorption.
So how do you know if you need more vitamin D?
He explains, "You just don't feel good. It can be very non-specific. You can have aches and pains. Feel tired. If somebody's tired, I think about testing for it. I almost feel guilty because I've offered them to take a medication that without a prescription literally costs a few cents and often they come back in a few months and say they feel substantially better." That medication, he says, is vitamin D.
Since vitamin D has been linked to a reduction in inflammation, many doctors are using it to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis. It is also a vitamin prescribed often for bone health. Dr. Peiris adds although controversial, some doctors believe it can also help their cancer patients.
He says unfortunately, it's not a 'use as needed' vitamin. He hears many patients say they stop taking vitamin D in the summer because that's when they can get more sun exposure. But it doesn't work that way. He says it is better absorbed if it is a consistent daily dose.
So how much do we need? His answer is "Depends."
Dr. Peiris warns it's best to get advice from your doctor on the dosage you need, because too much vitamin D can be toxic.